Newark Mayor Ras Baraka (Mayor’s Press Office)

By Mayor Ras J. Baraka

Our nation is facing an unprecedented reality that we have never seen before and now more than ever we need swift action. Thank you to Assemblywoman Britnee N. Timberlake for her leadership in crafting the A-3948 legislation that will benefit so many homeowners and renters during this critical time.

As our country sees record numbers of individuals who are losing their jobs and seeking unemployment, residents should not have to worry about where they will live, whether they will be removed from their homes, or if they can continue to protect the health and wellness of themselves and their loved ones. This legislation will provide Newark residents and citizens across our state with essential economic relief needed as we continue to respond to the financial burden from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 A-3948 would allow upon request, any resident seeking forbearance of mortgage loans and the suspension of rental payments during the existing COVID-19 public health emergency an automatic 90- to 180-day grace period. The legislation would additionally remove the requirement of providing proof of economic hardship or having any fees or penalties attached to their appeals.

 In addition to protecting homeowners and renters, the bill goes much further and looks to give assistance to individuals with debts such as student loans that they had prior to the pandemic that they are unable to pay now. In 2019, student loan debt was listed as the second highest consumer debt category – following mortgage debt, there were more than 45 million student loan borrowers who together owe more than $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. Now, more than ever, it is critically important that we do all we can to protect residents and push for more protections at the state and federal level during this uncertain time. Failure to do so will have a severe and harmful impact on our collective future.

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